Joni Pitkanen still can't put foot in a skate 14 months after sustaining heel injury

Jun 30, 2:32 PM

Joni Pitkanen sustained a broken heel bone on an icing play gone very wrong way back in early April of 2013. The Finnish defender was stretchered off of the ice and hasn't played since. 

Tragically, the talented blue-liner isn't even close to returning from the broken heel bone injury he sustained 14 months ago:

The potentially career ending injury to the 6-foot-3, 220 pound defender (in addition to a broken femur injury sustained by Edmonton Oilers farmhand Taylor Fedun in preseason action) was a major reason the league adopted the 'hybrid icing' rule for the 2012-13 season.

In March, Pitkanen told NHL.com that he'd "been making progress with my rehab and it remains my goal to resume my professional hockey career." Hopefully he can accomplish that. The NHL is poorer for his absence.

Aug 6, 8:29 AM

Joni Pitkanen tells Finnish news a comeback looks unlikely

Aug 6, 8:29 AM

Defenseman Joni Pitkanen hasn't played with the Carolina Hurricanes in a full season due to an injury he sustained chasing down a puck on an icing call. He broke his heel and continues to have significant trouble rehabbing.

At the end of July, Pitkanen told Finnish news outlet Kaleva, "Really [it's] still a long way that I could play at all." (As translated by Google.)

He was asked about playing next season and he replied, "That is difficult to say."

Pitkanen's deal with the Hurricanes expired last season, making him a free agent. It's unlikely he'll be back in the NHL this season, as he told Kaleva he hasn't even been on skates.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Eric Hartline

Mar 16, 2:43 PM

Joni Pitkanen making progress, hopeful for NHL return

Mar 16, 2:43 PM

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen, the hybrid icing's poster boy, is continuing his progression toward a return to the NHL after suffering a broken heel bone after crashing into the end boards while chasing an icing nearly 12 months ago. 

Scheduled for unrestricted free agency this summer, the nine-year veteran has spent the season working out in Raleigh in attempts to prevent the injury from ending his playing career.

Although he's making progress from the horrific injury, Pitkanen admits that he is unaware of when (or if) he will be able to return. 

"There is no timetable as of now, but I've been making progress with my rehab and it remains my goal to resume my professional hockey career," Piktaken said, via NHL.com. "It's been frustrating to be away from the ice, but I want to thank all of the people who have expressed support throughout the season."

The offensively-gifted former fourth-overall pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2002 has 282 points in 535 career games.